County crowns winners in annual gingerbread house contest

Photo Courtesy of Essex County
West Orange’s Mesgana Geberyesus, center, won first place in the individual child category in the Essex County Environmental Center’s 13th annual Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest. Mesgana is congratulated by Essex County Parks Director Dan Salvante, right, and Environmental Center Director Tara Casella, left.

ROSELAND, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. presented awards to the children and families who participated in the Essex County Environmental Center’s 13th annual Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest on Monday, Dec. 18. There were 33 entries in this year’s contest.

“Our Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest is a wonderful project that incorporates our mission to raise awareness about nature with a holiday theme. This hands-on, family-oriented contest lets people of all ages learn about the environment in a fun way,” DiVincenzo said. “I am amazed at the creativeness and ingenuity of the entries each winter. Everyone who participated in this contest was a winner.”

The public was invited to participate in four categories: individual child category for children ages 14 or younger who worked independently on all aspects of their entry; group/family category for children 14 and younger who worked as a group or had adult assistance on any aspect of their entry; adult non-professional category for individuals or groups of people ages 15 and older who are students of the culinary arts or are not professional chefs; and adult professional category for individuals or groups of people ages 15 and older who are professional chefs or are working in the culinary arts.

In the group/family category, Aydan Sorrentino and Aidan Leifer from Roseland took first place; Cassandra Lopez and Levana Roy from Newark took second place; and Ella, Ashlyn, Avery and Hayden McAdams from Montclair took third place.

In the individual child category, Mesgana Geberyesus from West Orange took first place; Laura Stairiker from Caldwell took second place; and Madison Rossetti from Caldwell took third place.

In the non-professional adult category, Aleah Colon-Alfonso from Caldwell took first place; Essex County North 13th Street Campus culinary arts students Gladys Perez, Kayla Salcedo and Kayla Ramirez and their teacher Eddie Encarnacion took second place; and Essex County West Caldwell Campus culinary arts students Michael Leon, Ruby Sarpong, Ashely Cowan, Carlos Rodriguez and Khyle Lonon and their teacher Brett Boon took third place.

In the adult professional category, Palermo Bakery from Little Ferry took first place; Sunrise Bakery at the West Caldwell ShopRite took second place; and Aramark at Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange took third place.

Entries were judged on distinctiveness, creative use of a nature theme, use of “green” building design techniques and skill in decoration. The gingerbread homes were on display at the Essex County Environmental Center during the month of December.

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